My good friend Chuck Aycock studies and encourages grandparents. And he has noticed that some grandparents aren’t fully engaged with their grandkids because they’re held back by two life-stage barriers. I want to make you aware of those barriers, so you can get past them and move forward with your grandkids.
First, you may have a limited view of your remaining years.
Even if you have potentially thirty or forty years of life left, you may be living as though the best years are in the past. Maybe you think that thirty or forty years in the workforce have earned you the right to take it easy.
Please don’t settle for that. The world may say, “Slow down,” but if you listen to your heart, you’ll hear it saying, “What’s next? I’m eager and willing.” Don’t miss what life has in store for you. You can still have ever-expanding horizons and a passion for life that will never die. And of course your grandkids are a big part of that.
The second potential barrier involves the relationship with your adult children.
Your son or daughter is a gatekeeper between you and your grandchildren, so tension or unresolved pain in that relationship can cause hindrances with your grandchildren. Healing those wounds is an important part of being a grandparent.
It may mean that you need to ask your adult child, “Are there promises I made to you that were never delivered on?” I know it’s a risky move; it’s tough to hear about your own struggles as a parent, but what a great first step toward reconciliation. You may want to make excuses or defend yourself, but instead, be open to your child’s perspective, and seek his or her forgiveness if you need to. Show that your relationship is more important than your own pride.
I know this is tough, but the rewards are far greater than any losses. If you can heal those wounds, your relationship will move into a new, better territory—and a great by-product will be that your adult child will enthusiastically support you being a part of your grandchildren’s lives.
And that can open the door to a season in life that makes the others dull by comparison.